Berber & Q, a Middle Eastern and North African grill house, will open within the railway arches of Haggerston, on 21st April 2015! Formerly at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Ottolenghi and Zest, Josh has taken influence for Berber & Q from all over – London, Marrakech, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and New York.
Second to his love of food is travel, and Josh has extensively explored Mangal restaurants in Turkey, the grill & kebab houses of Istanbul, the food stalls of Jmaa el Fna in Marrakesh and the Shipudim in Tel Aviv.
Growing up in North London meant regular visits to the falafel shops, Middle Eastern grocery stores, bakeries, butchers, Shawarma houses and Israeli restaurants which became regular after-school haunts. In more recent years, Josh has frequently travelled to New York, eating his way through the city’s BBQ joints and developing a passion for the cuisine which will be carried over to his menu at Berber & Q.
With the open mangal, charcoal grill and smoker at the centre of the offering, Josh has split his menu into ‘Meat’, ‘Pickles’, ‘Mezze’, ‘Sandwiches’ and ‘Sweets’, that will all be served on communal mess trays. Signature ‘Meats’ will include Lamb Mechoui (£9.50), pulled forequarter of lamb eaten by hand with cumin salt for dipping; Fennel seed & paprika smoked pork belly (£8.50); and maple-glazed smoked Merguez (£8.00). The changing menu will include ‘mezzes’ of Blackened aubergine with walnut and tahini (£5); Cauliflower shawarma (1/4, ½, whole) (£3/5/8); and Glazed beetroot with date syrup and whipped feta (£5).
House-made sauces will accompany the dishes, like Zhug, harissa and garlic yoghurt, and all orders will come with griddled Israeli Ciapita and Berber house salad. Desserts will be offerings such as Rose Malabi (£4.50) and Saffron rice pudding with green pistachio (£5).
Co Founder, Mattia Bianchi, who previously worked at Ottolenghi and with Ben Spalding, will oversee the front of house and bar offering. The cocktail list will be Middle Eastern, using Lebanese Arak, homemade bitters, syrups, infused spirits and liquors. Drinks will include the SazARAK (£8); Scammed in Marrakesh Punch (£7); Haggerstoned (£7); and the Labaneeza (£7.50).
Berber & Q will collaborate with Crate Brewery to offer their very own Golden on draught, made with Thyme, Za’atra, Sumac and orange zest, served in growlers. Other beers will include Golden Taybeh from Palestine, and Moroccan lager Casablanca.
The short wine list will be ever changing, including no more than 15 bins. There will be wines from small producers in Southern Italy, Spain, and France, along with lesser-known bottles from Morocco and Turkey. Mattia will choose one magnum every month – his current favourite, which will take pride of place on the list, and will represent excellent value. The list will begin at £3.50 for a glass, and £18.50 for a bottle.
Berber & Q, designed by London based Judith Pearson, will sit under a weathered, brick railway arch (previously a disused taxi rank), its exterior clad with rusted and corrugated metal sheets, and finely patterned lattice vinyl. A long, dark-wood bar will stretch the length of the room. With the open kitchen as a backdrop, seating will comprise a mixture of dark wooden booths covered with sackcloth cushions and long, communal sharing tables made from railway sleepers, all overhung with lights made from sheet metal.
‘Cooking for me is all about simplicity, no fuss, no pomposity. I want Berber & Q to be fun and informal. There’ll be a few dishes that you’ll eat with your hands. The vibe is all about sharing good food, in a close setting with great friends’ says Josh Katz. ‘Our passion for Middle Eastern and North African food is enormous. We live in London but we love the ‘lights down’ buzzy dining culture of bars in New York. We want to bring the bits we love from all these cultures together at Berber & Q’, adds Mattia.